Villa must learn the hard way as Smith’s new­com­ers strug­gle to close out games

Adam Lani­gan ex­am­ines why they have dropped eight points from win­ning po­si­tions

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football -

Their de­sire to play fluid foot­ball had al­lowed them to score two fine goals through An­war El Ghazi and John Mcginn. But it left them vul­ner­a­ble when out of pos­ses­sion and so Burn­ley cap­i­talised with head­ers from Jay Ro­driguez and Chris Wood.

Mcginn is feel­ing the frus­tra­tion more than most. The all-ac­tion Scot­tish mid­fielder has scored in each of those three games, but none of his goals has gone on to de­liver three points. “We have said it so many times be­fore,” he ad­mit­ted. “It is just manag­ing the game and do­ing what other teams do even if it is not pretty. Just boot it away or

kick it as far high up in the stands as pos­si­ble and re­group. We didn’t man­age the game prop­erly and got pun­ished. We are in­ex­pe­ri­enced at this level a lot of us but we are learn­ing the hard way.”

Villa’s nat­u­ral way of work­ing is to be on the front foot, which helped get them out of the Cham­pi­onship on the back of a club-record 10 suc­ces­sive wins.

That has al­lowed them to com­pete in ev­ery match on their re­turn to the top flight and they have cer­tainly not parked the bus any­where. But all teams at this level carry a real at­tack­ing threat and Dean Smith’s side are not go­ing to dom­i­nate ev­ery mo­ment of ev­ery game. So it is a case of find­ing a way to gain de­fen­sive con­trol when not dom­i­nat­ing pos­ses­sion. Of Villa’s start­ing back five against Burn­ley, only cen­tral de­fender Team

As­ton Villa Tot­ten­ham West Ham Manch­ester United Chelsea Bournemout­h New­cas­tle Brighton Crys­tal Palace Arse­nal Manch­ester City Burn­ley Wat­ford Southamp­ton Nor­wich Sh­effield United Wolves Ever­ton Liver­pool Le­ices­ter

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